Ramadan is here, and everyone is in a pakora making frenzy! Long story short, I’ve put together my basic pakora recipe with a number (12) of vegetarian fillings that I’ve tried. (Chicken, shrimp and fish pakoras will have to wait for another post!) Some are classic, some might be new for you- this is the time to try them out and enjoy all the pakoras that you possibly can!
Basic Pakora Recipe
- 1½ cups besan (gram flour)
- ½ tsp salt
- ¼ tsp red chilies (adjust according to your taste)
- 1 tsp cumin
- 2 tsp coriander powder
- pinch of oregano
- pinch of baking soda
- About 1 cup of water
Mix the besan and all the spices together with a whisk. Add the water slowly, a little at a time, mixing constantly to make a smooth batter. Mix in the baking soda. The final batter should be a little towards the thin side.
Dip the vegetables of your choice in the batter and deep fry on medium heat until golden brown on both sides.
I like to add soda because it makes them really light and fluffy. A tip for when to turn the pakoras over: (this applies when you’re frying anything) the edges of the pakoras will start to turn golden brown, telling you that the bottom side is done. Don’t let the edges get too brown, that means that they are probably over done.
Make a batter with besan, salt, and red chilies.
Sprinkle all the dipping vegetable with chaat masala. Dip into the batter and deep fry. A very easy recipe with very few ingredients and outstanding taste that I learnt from a friend!
Cottage Cheese Pakoras
My brother’s all time favorite. A lot of people might not know this, but cottage cheese is big in Peshawar. It is widely available and is batter fried and served with dinner even when it isn’t Ramadan. I made the cottage cheese myself, but it is available in desi stores, labelled as paneer. I just had a really bad experience of buying it once- it had a very, very strong masala smell in it, maybe because of proximity to masalas where it was manufactured. But it ruined my palak paneer and I never bought cottage cheese again.
Cottage cheese is very easy to make. I’ll post the recipe soon, IA.
These are so deeeelish! I love the crunch of the asparagus. Cut and discard the hard end of the asparagus. Dip the tips in batter and deep fry.
Boiled Egg Pakoras
My husband’s favorite. You can cut the hard boiled egg in half or 4’s if half is too big for you.
One of my new favorites. I just fried whole white mushrooms but they could be cut up if you like.
Stuffed Jalapeño Pakoras
I came up with this idea from Jalapeño Poppers. I keep them pretty simple: Slit whole jalapeños (preferably with stem) and remove all the seeds. Fill with cream cheese, dip in batter and deep fry. But you can do any kind of fancy filling, and mix up mozzarella and cream cheese if you like. These are excellent and my absolute favorite.
Green Tomato Pakoras
Ok, who loves fried green tomatoes? And I don’t mean the movie. One of the yummiest southern snacks and so excellent with comeback sauce! A friend told me they make green tomato pakoras, so I immediately wanted to try them out. I don’t use thick cut tomatoes as are used in fried green tomatoes. Because pakoras are deep fried, the idea is not really to cook the vegetables- it’s more of an in and out kind of deal. Thinly sliced are softer, of course, thick cut will have some more body in the bite. But what makes these pakoras is the tang of the tomatoes.
Cauliflower and Broccoli Pakoras
Cauliflower pakoras are very popular, but I lumped these two together as a shout out to Giada’s Parmesan Broccoli and Cauliflower Salad, which I have always wanted to try. Next time I might try to incorporate cheese into these pakoras.
These are made of deep frying fresh spinach leaves. I used baby spinach here. Because the leaves are so thin, these come out really crispy! In Pakistan, my favorite greens pakoras were made out of wild greens called khatittan. My mother recognizes it from having grown up seeing it and brought it home whenever she found it growing somewhere. The leaves have a slight tang and is absolutely delicious.
Who can go wrong with deep fried eggplant? Love these!
The classic pakora. To make these, I add sliced onions, chopped green chilies, cilantro (and sometimes fresh mint leaves) and some anardana (crushed pomegranate seeds) to the batter and deep fry tablespoonfuls. The batter is thicker for these than it is for the ‘dipped’ pakoras.
One of the most popular… although I’m not sure why. The potato makes these a bit too bland for me and it has to be sliced very thin to make sure that it gets cooked through while frying. A little extra spices in the batter helps these pakoras.
I serve pakoras with imli chutney, mint chutney and ketchup.
For the imli chutney, I take a piece of the imli, put it in a saucepan and cover it with water. I bring it to a simmer and cook it down about 45 minutes or so until it reaches a chutney-like thickness. Then I add some salt, some red chilies and a lot of sugar! It usually tastes how I want it to taste that particular day. Sometimes a little tangy, sometimes a little sweet. Imli chutney can have a range of taste from quite tangy and spicy to really sweet. Then I strain it and it’s ready!
I make mint chutney by grinding together a handful of fresh mint, a handful of cilantro and half a green chili together, mixing it with yogurt, thinning it with water and seasoning it with salt. My brother’s favorite is the sweet mint chutney (add sugar, of course) in case you’re into that.
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